From the time we are toddlers until we become older and infirm, we tend to take control of urination for granted. Seldom do have embarrassing accidents between ages 3 and 83. However, as we age, the muscles holding the urine in place until we can voluntarily reach a restroom are weakened and loss of urine becomes one of aging most troublesome and devastating experiences. This blog will discuss the problems that many middle age and older men and woman have and what can be done about it.
There are multiple causes of urinary incontinence. It can be as simple as not drinking enough water. It could be as serious as an inflamed bladder wall from a urinary tract infection. Several diseases can bring about incontinence, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. In women, prior pregnancies, childbirth, and the onset of menopause can lead to incontinence. In men, prostate problems can hamper urination. Drinking coffee or tea or taking prescribed medications with adverse side effects can aggravate your bladder.
The thought of seeing a doctor about the leaks often causes some embarrassment. A primary care physician may refer the patient to a urinary specialist, such as a urologist, whose job it would be to diagnose and treat the problem. A careful history and physical exam is performed by the doctor who will also ask for a urine specimen to rule out infection or blood in the urine. Blood tests are done to check kidney function, calcium and glucose levels.
For the majority of people with incontinence, most of the time it is non-surgical treatment. Treatments include bladder training, scheduled bathroom visits, pelvic floor muscle exercises, and fluid and diet management. There are no side effects and the response is proportional to the work of the patient.
There are simple steps you can take to avoid complications such as skin rashes and urine odors. For cleaning, use a mild soap such as Dove. Use a protective ointment like petroleum jelly or cocoa butter that can protect skin. Make sure to pat the skin dry after urinating. If he or she rushes to the restroom, slip-and-fall accidents can and have happened, so try to set up the home to make bathroom trips easier. Use pads and protective garments such as disposable underwear until you find a successful cure.
Bottom Line: Urinary incontinence is a common problem in the elderly. That’s the bad news. The good news is urinary incontinence is very treatable condition. Just remember, you don’t have to depend on Depends!